I promised everyone I’d be back soon. On this edition of The South Will Blog Again we will finish our coverage of the 2012 Bowl Season with my analysis of the National Championship of between Alabama and Notre Dame.
Once again, to no surprise to my readers, the SEC emerged victorious. And I suspect to folks not named “Holtz” it wasn’t too shocking that Bama won. But I suspect it surprised a few Yankees and SEC haters just how much of a beat down it was.
As I said on Facebook at the time, the Irish haven’t looked this weak since the Potato Famine.
While on the one hand, having the “Houndstooth Mafia” win again is going to be obnoxious. All of us non-Tide SEC types are going to spend all season hearing the arrogant rants and chants of Crimson Pride. No one has more annoying Sidewalk Alums than Bama. Not even the Irish. On the other hand, what am I saying? Even Bama’s concrete graduates take a back seat to the hordes of Plastic Paddies in this country.
Still, my blog, nay my entire life is about all things Southern so despite my dislike of Rammer Bammer Jammer and Company I was glad to see the mighty elephant stampede the leprecaun.
– Southern Blogger
RUDY VERSUS FORREST GUMP
“Mama always said football is like a plate of barbecue. The North don’t know anything about it”.
I hate the movie Rudy. I really hate it. For those who haven’t seen this Disney “classic” 3’7” Hobbit Sean Astin graduates high school, kind of sucks but “has heart” (which is coach speak for that girl has a nice personality), fails at his Midwestern steal plant job, somehow gets into community college, fails to get into Notre Dame because his grades “have heart” and then still buys a letterman jacket he didn’t earn from a lame school he didn’t attend. Someone lit a candle and/or found the pot of gold and “it’s a Mighty Ducks miracle!” he got into Notre Dame.
But then our Hobbit friend meets up with Pauly Shore and a caveman at UCLA (wait that’s another movie)….oh no….I remember…He tries out for the Fighting Irish and his heart gives out…figuratively. Then yada yada the kid bugs the coach to let him be a human tackling dummy so he can pretend he earned his dumb letterman jacket. After 2 hours of being discouraged he gets help from some Louis Gossett Jr. type guy who tells him to (surprise) “have heart”. Rudy makes the team because it’s actually not too hard to make the teams outside of the SEC and he eventually tackles someone. He’s carried off the field because as we know not many Notre Dame players can make tackles.
Forrest Gump on the other hand is a lesson in Southern courage. Rednecks chase Gump, Gump is forced to run. In the SEC running is a good thing and Bear Bryant agrees and so Gump is a star halfback at Alabama. It’s no big deal that he can barely write his name because he can play football. This means Rudy wouldn’t have had much of a chance to tackle him. Being a Southerner, Gump fights for his country while in Rudy’s part of the country people are burning draft cards. Gump excels at all sports and at life. He even gets the girl although that girl isn’t on the righteous path. Rudy just got a stupid jacket.
Gump also got an Oscar. As I said Rudy sucks.
WHEN IRISH COMMENTATORS ARE LYING
The point of the above treatise is to show that while having heart and making good grades is nice and all to win at football you need to know how to run.
And Alabama and the other teams in the SEC can run. Notre Dame cannot.
Alabama plays in a conference with the toughest schedule in the land and a championship game versus a top ten squad.
Notre Dame doesn’t even have a conference. They believe it’s 1937.
Both teams get a lot of media hype and attention. One can back it up.
If you watched the coverage leading up to the game Lou Holtz and his cohorts were predicting a Notre Dame slaughter. It was laughable. Never mind that Notre Dame played a weak schedule, barely survived against some weak opponents, was slow, and hasn’t been to the Big Show in two decades, and were playing the defending national champs. The media had them ranked #1 and they had heart.
But didn’t you see Rudy? Heart always wins.
That’s what Dr. Lou says.
ROSARIES VERSUS ROADSIDE SIGNS
This game had it all. It was the ultimate Northern school versus Southern school. Two classic programs who’ve added way more titles to their count than records seem to indicate. They have huge national fan bases. It pitted #1 versus #2. The game was to contain dozens of future NFL players led by two big-time coaches.
And it was a fight between Catholics and Southern Baptists.
Yep. Oh I know you heard about the “Catholics versus Cousins” t-shirts and all that, but what this really pitted was fandoms of the two biggest denominations on Sunday rooting for their respective congregants for their Saturday religion.
I have a feeling this is how it went down. Throughout Catholic America Notre Dame had quite a few prayer candles lit on the weeks leading up to the game, while in Southern Baptist pews Jesus was asked to work a few miracles for A.J. McCarren (and no by Jesus I don’t mean Tim Tebow). This game pitted intercession versus direct line Christianity.
I went to Catholic High School. I went to college in the SEC. I’m certain this is how it went down. It must have really been hard for Alabama Catholics….having to choose one religion over the other. Either way you choose you’re damned.
But remember folks, Jesus doesn’t care who wins the Super Bowl or the BCS championship for that matter. But that doesn’t stop you from praying.
RUDY KIND OF SUCKS AT FOOTBALL
Then there was the game itself. I had loudly predicted all week to all that would listen (and to others that had to listen anyway) that Alabama and the SEC would win. I reminded folks that Northerners play football while Southerners are fighting a war. I explained that the past six years were no joke. I harangued about Notre Dame’s media hype, lack of conference play, and weak schedule. I predicted an Alabama victory sure as the sun would come up the next day. But even I didn’t predict this much of a butt whooping.
It was a mismatch from the opening kickoff. Like bowls past the size and speed difference of the SEC teams was obvious. So long as conference teams stay disciplined and motivated (unlike say Florida) they tend to win the game. Saban was focused, which meant the team under penalty of death was focused, and the Crimson Tide started rolling.
Notre Dame’s best play was to complain about a couple questionable calls. Yep, that was pretty much it. They couldn’t run more than a couple yards, complete many passes with the exception of their tight end, and even more damning make any tackles. Eddie Lacy ran all over their vaunted defense, and when he got bored with that, they put in T.J. Yeldon and the freshman put up even more numbers. And when Alabama got tired of running they threw a few bombs down the field for touchdowns. The running game, the passing game, the defensive attack, and especially the offensive line were superior in every way.
All we heard about leading up to this game, and indeed all season was Notre Dame’s defense. Well, we stopped hearing about them after five minutes of the game. They never did much if they even showed up at all. Maybe they too were make believe. The biggest hit on A.J. McCarren was from his own center for being kind of a punk. You know That punk with the hot girlfriend.
A STAR IS BORN
Certainly you noticed. Brent Musberger soon noticed. Yep to no surprise to anyone living below the Mason-Dixon the star quarterback was dating Miss Alabama. And being Miss Alabama, or really about any coed down there, Miss Katherine Webb was hot. The amusing thing was Mr. Musberger doesn’t spend too much time on SEC campuses because this type of beauty is in force down there. We count our Miss America titles along with our National Championships (three each for my alma mater).
And so Brent and an obviously equally obsessed cameraman focused on the young Miss Katherine as she struck a pose and seemingly model-pouted through the game. Touchdown….strike a pose. But who can blame them? What else was there to see after the first half? I mean Alabama showed up so thus Notre Dame’s chances were gone. So Brent went on and on and on in a treatise on Southern belles. As I said, no one could blame him. Except the ninnies at ESPN. For some reason sports journalism had moved to the left of Pravda you know in order to be taken seriously. So Brent had to apologize. Seriously.
You know who didn’t mind? … the lady in question. For one thing, Southern women aren’t insulted by polite compliments (not leering)any more than door opening. For another thing judging by subsequent TV appearances a star was born. It’s all about ratings. And in the South our coeds also command bigger ratings.
MORE ACCURATE THAN LOU HOLTZ (MAYBE NOT AS FUNNY)
I suppose all this bored most of America. They were looking for a close game. Perhaps they were looking for the SEC to finally get their comeuppance. But it didn’t happen. It was never going to happen. Heck this wasn’t even the best or fifth best Yankee team to throw in there.
Y’all may have been bored at the lack of drama but that’s because you thought this was a drama. I saw this as a comedy texting to my contact list how very funny this all was. Everyone should have known this was going to be a butt kicking of Marse Robert proportions. But then again not everyone reads this blog. I need ratings. Maybe my Katherine Webb cartoon will help.
I know that it’s been nearly a month since the bowl season, and nearly two months since my last post. I’ve been truant in the blogosphere. Another SEC -dominant bowl whooping went down and your Southern Blogger wasn’t around to detail it.
I had a good reason. I got injured. Playing whiffle ball with my nephew on Christmas. Yep I’m pretty tough. It was nothing too big at first, just a little soreness that turned into a big soreness, which turned into tendonitis. If you’ve never had the pleasure of tendonitis it sucks. I’d rather watch General Sherman eat cheese fries with ranch dressing while singing the Ohio State fight song than have tendonitis. So yeah, it sucks.
Add to that a little carpal tunnel symptoms associated with my injury and it makes it hard to draw and type. But I’m in physical therapy three times a week and trying to manage things. Well, slowly but surely I’ve drawn 14 pictures and have two posts worked up about the bowl season. It’s a bit outdated, and I’m out of practice but here goes…
Rising Again: Every Bowl Season
I love bowl season. It’s like hunting season only the “game” is Yankee running backs. It’s “put up or shut up time” where every year the SEC puts up with anti-South diatribes and accusations of cheating and then pummels the opposition causing them to shut up. And for the seventh straight year we proved once again who the best is.
One of my favorite blogs is Saturdays Down South. On one post a commenter mentioned “some of you guys equate the SEC with the Confederacy”. I think he was talking about me. Every time I see a Big Ten school get pummeled I fist pump like it’s 1863. It’s Gettysburg folks, only this time George Pickett is 6’6” and runs a 4.4 40.
This year we had nine of our fourteen (if you count Missouri) Southern armies/schools going up against the rest. The ESPN types, Oregon homers, Golden Domers, and Ohio State fans sitting on probation said “this year…THIS bowl season” would be different. It wasn’t. It never is.
Even Our Nerds Can Ball
The first game we had NC State versus Vanderbilt. This was clearly an undercard. First of all NC State is a Southern enough school on the right side of the sweet tea line but wrong side of the football is cooler than basketball debate. And they went up against Vanderbilt, not exactly the typical SEC school. They actually go to class…players too. Yeah, hard to believe.
But Vandy has gotten much better of late. They sent the Wolf Pack to the kennels and handed them a beat down. Since it was the Music City Bowl nobody really watched. Sad, because they missed seeing a real up and coming team. Even our nerds can ball.
Not Everyone Got the Memo
But like any great drama there was a bit of a scary moment when it looked like our braggadocio would backfire and I’d have to write a post defending Yankee football. Well…or at least go back to writing about barbecue. Three of our teams lost to non-SEC opponents. They let us down.
The first to backfire was perhaps the most excusable. LSU blew a big lead against Clemson. What makes it excusable is that Clemson is the most SEC-like (along with Florida State) of any non-SEC team. Clemson’s Boyd can throw and run and had experience in big games. Clemson usually wins their bowls and has a fast defense and good play calling.
But LSU had something too…a big lead going into the fourth quarter. Then the lead got smaller. And smaller. And smaller until LSU had the chance to escape with a victory by icing the clock. Cool Les, all you’ve got to do is throw in a few running plays and get a first down and you’re out of there. At worst, you can go three and out and leave a few seconds of the clock.
Well clocks and Les Miles don’t really go together. I don’t think he believes in the same space-time continuum that you and I do. He ran three straight passing plays and no first down. The space-time continuum if you will stopped long enough for Clemson to get the ball back and score.
Then there was Florida. They’re the so-called #3 team in the country. They were going up against Louisville of the Big East. This is like candy from a baby. Only stealing is a penalty and that’s what we found out Florida was good at…penalties.
As in three in a row….personal foul, personal foul, personal foul on the coach. Kind of hard to win when the other team is walking all over the yellow flag carpet into the end zone. Will Muschamp is a hothead and clearly he controls his players no better than his temper. Florida chumped out, embarrassing the SEC and breaking bowl pick ‘em pools everywhere (including mine).
Then came New Year’s Day. The SEC was a shocking 1-2 and people were starting to talk. Then Mississippi State and their no-neck coach down Southeast rolled into town to play the nerdiest school this side of the Commodores…the Theorizing’ Wildcats of Northwestern.
Northwestern hasn’t defeated a bowl opponent since Dewey defeated Truman or rather Truman defeated Dewey in an upset. I guess they were hungry. I guess they figured out an algorithm that forecasted their victory. Or perhaps they consulted the forced with their plastic light sabres or held a séance which guaranteed their offensive prowess. Or maybe…just maybe they figured that Mullen’s mullets were the most overrated team in the country with a baby schedule and hammered them.
I have to say of all the SEC losses that one was the best. I’m of the school of thought that you hold your nose and root for the whole conference…but still as an Ole Miss alumnus, this one was pretty funny.
The problem was, that left the SEC looking bad. All the usual network talking heads were jumping on the idea that this was a bad year for the SEC. But while the bulldogs were getting chased up the tree by the ‘Cats other better teams were taking care of business.
Taking Care of Business
In a well-predicted shootout the Georgia Bulldogs were duking it out with the Nebraska Cornhuskers. On the one hand Georgia could have been feeling a let-down after coming close to a BCS title shot after losing to Alabama. On the other hand, Nebraska is a pretty tough Northern football team with size, speed, good coaching, and NFL prospects.
In Georgia’s favor Mark Richt has a disciplined team. While he blew last year’s bowl he had his team prepared to air it out with the best of them. If you can hang with Alabama, well then you can hang with anybody. Also in their favor was Aaron Murray a pocket style passer with a first round draft selection to Oak-Cleve-land in his not too distant future. While Nebraska could air it out too, they didn’t have the defense that the Dawgs were bringing and the SEC notched it back up.
The Tackle Heard ‘Round the World
Simultaneously the South Carolina Gamecocks were in the ring with the winged helmets of Ann Arbor. We’ve been told that Meecheegan was coming back to their former glory and could hang with the SEC. Well they didn’t really hang very long early in the year when ranked #4 and getting stuffed by the Tide and well they didn’t hang in the end against Sakir Liner.
Funny thing about winged helmets. They can fly. At least when a player wearing one gets bulldozed by Jadeveon Clowney. In the greatest Southern defensive barrage since Fredericksburg Clowney got revenged on Michigan moments after the worst call in NCAA history (not involving Notre Dame). The referee had just called a first down after a fourth down play was stopped. The ball was six inches from the first down line. The chains were clear. Six inches. That was farther than Steve Spurrier’s face was from the ref after screaming and jumping up and down after that dubious pronouncement.
At that point the game was on the line and was the SEC’s bowl dominance. A Michigan win would be a strong blow for Bluecoated football fandom. And then came the next play. BOOM!!! In a split second I saw a Michigan player get flattened and then the ball come out in a fumble. Clowney had bowled over the line, crushed the Michigan running back forcing off the helmet ten feet in the air and then palmed the football. It’s like you’re playing nerf ball with some kid, taking it easy, and then that kid kicks you in a non-cool place to kick you. You catch your breath, get mad and well take the nerf ball from the baby.
It was 3-3
Johnny Bowl Season
The next game was to be a bellwether. In a matchup of former Big 12 foes the Texas A&M Aggies were going up against Bob Stoops (the shortest neck this side of Dan Mullen) and his Oklahoma Sooners. It was supposedly even. ESPN big-time Boomer Sooners said so. Well “shockingly” the folks in Bristol, CT were wrong again.
See Texas A&M had Johnny Football. Johnny Football not only plays quarterback, throws, and runs well, and had won the Heisman…no siree. Johnny Football composed symphonies when he was 6, cornered the stock market, solved the Israeli-Palestinian conflict while riding a unicycle and juggling, has a 7.2 GPA because he teaches his own classes, rescues cats from trees, and children from burning buildings and may in fact be a child of a deity. At least according to the play-by-play men.
Well one thing is for sure, Johnny Football and the Aggies completely gutted the Sooners. The wheels of the wagon fell off. Welcome to the SEC kid. We’re glad to have you.
Yep…Even Ole Miss
Now it was Ole Miss’ turn. Say what you want about us we win our bowl games even if they’re often bowl games no one else watches.
This however is a team on the rise lead by first-year coach Hugh Freeze aka Freezus. Freeze is the Mississippi reared Archie Manning hand-picked replacement for Houston Nutt. He’s a disciplinarian, a father-figure, a good recruiter, and an excellent play caller. In other words he’s the opposite of Houston Nutt.
Ole Miss was playing their own Big East opponent in Pitt but unlike Florida the Rebs didn’t take this game for granted even though this was in Birmingham, AL. While Birmingham has the failed iron industry and empty buildings that make any Pittsburgher homesick it is in fact much closer to Oxford, MS as the sea of red in the crowd showed. A 6-6 team played a 6-6 team but of course one of those 6-6 teams had played Alabama, Texas A&M, Georgia, and LSU.
It wasn’t even close. Sure the Rebs won a BCPM Bumpus Compass Bowl in a broken stadium, in a broken town, in a part of town you don’t want to be broken down in, on the bad ratings time slot of bowl season, with a trophy that looked like pretty bad aluminum modern art. All true. But we won and got to say “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C”. Mississippi State didn’t get to do that.
5-3 with Alabama and Notre Dame to go. The ultimate North vs. South contest.
That’s coming next post. Soon I promise. – SB
As promised I’m here to mock Mizzou for you…er well sort of.
I’m about five weeks late.
The thing is, how do you mock a school you know nothing about? After all, many of my war stories and satire of other fans in the SEC comes from personal experience. We all know each other, we all hate each other, but in the end (and this is VERY grudging with regards to Mississippi State), we all RESPECT each other. I’ve had encounters with just about every type of SEC creature out there. There’s always plenty of material. But…what the heck is a Mizzou?
Yes I know it’s the nickname for the University of Missouri just like Ole Miss is what a non Yankee calls the University of Mississippi. But there’s where the similarities end. I’ve never seen Mizzou in person, never followed the old Big 12 North (or Big Eight before that), spent about 5 hours in St. Louis once, and flew over the state a couple of times. I think I watched them on TV once or twice when inexplicably they had them ranked in the top five and after two or three plays lost interest.
These guys…THESE GUYS are in my beloved SEC. I don’t think so.
NOT WORTHY OF SATIRE
Friends, rather than waste too much southern fried gigabytes on the matter let me just say this. From what I’ve seen of them this past year they are dorks. And I want them out of my league.
Sure, Texas A&M is new as well. Here’s the thing. They’re in the South. Maybe not so much South-EASTERN, but they’re on the right side of the sweet-tea line even if they make barbecue out of cow instead of hog. They have history. They have tradition. They can win a game or two in conference. They even slayed the Tuscaloosa Beast right in Bryant-Denny on their first conference try. They have my attention and they have my respect.
Those other guys? I saw matching school spirit t-shirts, Glee-esque choreography in the student section, Conference USA uniforms, a smallish stadium, trash talk against err…um..Kansas…and although a “border state” a campus a little too close to Iowa for my taste. I don’t like it. No sir.
So why pray tell are they crashing our party? Let me get to the real topic at hand here. An ugly thing called conference realignment.
It’s why I’m forced to write about Missouri.
EVERYBODY REALLY HATES CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT
Tradition. It’s what makes Southern college football special. Between the Hedges, Death Valley, The Grove. War Eagle, Gator Bait, Roll Tide. Bryant, Dooley, Neyland. Manning, Walker. Cannon. We all know what those terms and phrases mean and we don’t like when they get changed up on us. I don’t know about you but I was just starting to get used to Arkansas and South Carolina.
Tradition. It’s what makes college football special in the rest of the country too. Yep, even those blue state conferences have a little history to them whether you like your helmets with wings or mini pot leaf stickers on them. And believe it or not some of those Yankee folks are just as upset at realignment as we are down here.
It has to do with putting teams from the wrong geographic area, wrong culture, and wrong playing style into a conference with a very well established sense of doing things. In other words, it may surprise you to find out that there are indeed different kinds of Yankees. And they often don’t understand or get along with one another.
Why on earth would the Big Ten take on Rutgers and Maryland?
I mean it’s one thing for the Big Ten to fudge some math take on a school or two past the number ten. Penn State was a good fit. Nebraska…pushing it a little, but still understandable. Scarlet Knights and Terps? Not so much. Really awful when you think about. Totally wrong and evil if you care about the Big Ten (or are pretending to for this article in order to make a point about throwing Mizzou out of the SEC).
The Midwest is Bob Seger country. It’s hard-working, plain, earnest, and about 15 years behind the times. It’s putting on your finest pair of sweatpants and ordering up an extra helping of ranch dressing with your cheese fries darn it while apologizing for saying darn it. Rutgers and Maryland…they’re the kids dumping the ranch dressing in your lap, and giving you the finger for causing them to do it, while they’re on their way to grind dance against the chick with big hair.
It’s like Sparty went and got a barbed wire tattoo….nay two barbed wire tattoos.
What makes it worse (just like Mizzou), Rutgers and Maryland don’t add anything to your football skill set. It’s not like the bigger Big Ten schools haven’t already recruited out of those areas. In fact, both schools are likely to be cannon fodder on the gridiron against most of their new conference opponents. Nope it makes no sense. Unless…
Yep…TV markets. Maryland and Rutgers brings the conference New York and DC. Lots of television sets tuned in by folks who forgot that the Redskins and Giants aren’t playing until the next day. In return Rutgers and Maryland get to fill their coffers with TV money and also fill their half empty stadiums with alums from Michigan, Penn State, and THE Ohio State University that churns out thousands of degrees but can’t employ them in state.
So the big name schools get a few more easy “home” games, while the Sopranos extras get a chance to wet their beaks in a more prestigious and lucrative market.
Kind of like having to play Missouri and getting to count it as a conference win.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS?
Short answer: Texas and Notre Dame.
Notre Dame for refusing to join a conference for football. They will be joining the ACC for everything else but football. Because lots of people really want to pay to see Notre Dame golf. Good for you ACC. It’s like you went up to the hottest girl in school, carried her books for her and helped her with her homework. But she’s not gonna go out with you because she’s just not that into you. Notre Dame wants to remain friends ACC.
Notre Dame has their own independent TV deal with NBC, and Notre Dame feels it doesn’t need to bow to any authority this side of Rome. In short, I hate Notre Dame but will spend more time pummeling them when I cover the National Championship game in a few weeks.
Then there’s the Texas Longhorns. We all knew a kid back in kindergarten who never got the concept of sharing. They always hogged the best toys or the sand box and so always ended up playing by themselves. Did you know that kid grew up to be the school president at the University of Texas?
Do y’all remember when the Big 12 had twelve teams? Do you remember when the Big 12 had a championship game which let’s say made it a bit harder for Texas to walk into a BCS game? Remember how Texas didn’t like nor feel the need to participate in such an extra round of football?
That’s because Texas feels that other schools should be honored just to have the privilege of playing in the same conference with them. Their arrogance and refusal to back conference revenue sharing (which is how Vanderbilt stays profitable in the SEC) caused Colorado, Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas A&M to seek greener pastures. It got even worse when Texas negotiated their own TV network with ESPN Notre Dame style.
What’s funny is how Texas mocked Texas A&M, predicted their doom in the SEC and lack of relevance without the Longhorns pushing them around. In the end, the Aggies have done quite well, will soon out recruit Texas and will become the destination football school in the state because they play in the prestige conference.
So thanks Texas for giving us the Aggies…
but then again, now we have Missouri.
SO IF WE MUST HAVE CONFERENCE REALIGNMENT…
Okay, I understand why we have to have a little conference shuffling now and then. But why can’t we fix some of the old problems and realign conferences that make better sense culturally and geographically? I used to like the ACC. I grew up in ACC country. And I remember when the ACC game of the week was sponsored by Food Lion and showed local barbecue commercials and car dealer ads with a bit of a twang to them. That WAS the ACC…the South’s other prestige conference. The ACC ruled, still ruled, and will always rule the sport of basketball. Southern Blogger doesn’t like the game of basketball but without a doubt that is their thing. Then they tried to compete with the SEC and put together a prestige football conference. They picked up Miami and Virginia Tech in the hopes of giving Florida State a little thing called competition.
Well a lot has changed since 2 Live Crew was getting banned from nightclubs and Russell Maryland was leading the country in sacks. Miami stinks. They’ve stunk for over a decade now and it looks like due to sanctions it’s going to be that way for a while. Miami to me is like getting a great deal on a 1986 Porsche. You’ve always wanted a Porsche and this one is a real classic. You might even trick it out with some custom Scarface graphics. And then you find that the engine is shot because someone filled the gas tank with cocaine. Got duped again ACC.
Then there is my second school (already covered in detail) Virginia Tech. They have a tendency to win in the ACC most years but can’t finish the bowl game. When your conference gets its butts handed to them in the bowl games it’s a sign that your conference really isn’t that tough to begin with. You know…I just don’t hear fans chanting “A-C-C , A-C-C” at the Chick Fil-A Bowl. You kind of have to win to do that.
But then the ACC decided to lose its roots and embrace Yankeedom full on. It was already bad enough having the University of Connecticut at Durham, they had to go ahead and add Boston College, Syracuse, and Pitt into their ranks. As I once said out loud in Blacksburg “you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Certainly this helps make the conference nearly impossible to defeat in basketball. But first of all, this blog cares little for basketball, and two no amount of championships is worth doubling your quotient of hair gel in the stands. Don’t listen to Nike…just don’t do it.
But wait they have Notre Dame now….oh right except football. Doh!
So for several years I’ve proposed that the SEC rescue the last remaining unquestionable Southern (and football oriented) schools in the conference; Clemson and Florida State. But every time the SEC had put out feelers to those schools they get rejected. Wouldn’t Clemson and Florida State make sense in the SEC? They have big stadiums, a preference for the Orange Bowl over the Math Bowl, good-looking coeds, good football traditions, and the ability to actually win a game or two.
But that’s just it. A game or two. They really don’t want to risk their cakewalk schedules against Wake Forest and Boston College and replace those games with Georgia and Alabama. And so they drown in a sea of basketballs to save their easy route to the BCS. And I guess considering what happens when these schools play Florida and South Carolina you can’t totally blame them.
Yes I can…it’s another reason why we have Missouri.
SO WHOSE FAULT IS THIS? (BIG PICTURE)
Ultimately we can only blame the real gangsters behind the scenes, the Big conference commissioners. These are the guys who negotiate the big TV deals and levy fines and sanctions against their member schools. These are the guys that ensure that the same five schools seem to curiously keep making it to the end. They are the real powers behind the throne. Nobody really remembers what these guys actually looks like or what their names are (unless you are THAT sidewalk alum that pays $49.99 a month to read recruiting updates) so I will make it easier for you. I visualize the heads of the ACC, SEC, Big Ten, and Pac 12 as Tony Soprano, Boss Hogg, Jimmy Hoffa, and Michael Bay.
Think about it. Do these men care about the consumer…the fans, alumni, and students of their respective institutions? I doubt it. What they care about it’s the increasingly gray area of the professionalization of college sports. I blame these guys for screwing up all the traditions and classic schedules of our regional conferences.
And Notre Dame and Texas too!
And of course now we have Missouri.
I think the reality of the last decade or two of college football shows me that this conference realignment is far from over. Who knows how soon it will end? On a positive note, it will likely give us a de facto playoff system with the winners of a few mega-conferences duking it out. But in the end we will be lest with a less Southern SEC, and ACC spreading west of the Atlantic, a less Pacific Pac 12, and a Big Ten that really doesn’t add up. There will be winners and losers in all of this. Certainly one has to blame the SEC office for being the cause of much of this, as well as the other big conferences. They don’t seem to care about the very people who love their product. It’s just going to be too hard to accept some teams in the regular season chase.
The winners will be the big conferences who will get ever-increasing revenue and TV deals and ensure their teams championship success. The losers will be the smaller schools that will have to either drop down a division or drop college football. The poor Big East will be forced to have teams on the West Coast, Gulf Coast, Appalachia, as well as the northeast. Travel costs will soon make this arrangement unprofitable and the conference will go the way of the old Southwest Conference (which Texas also screwed up). Every time they get that twelfth team Charlie Brown style, another conference swoops in and picks up the football.
And that is why we have Missouri.
We’ll cover more familiar football topic in the next few weeks with my guides to the SEC championship game, and of course the showdown between Alabama and Notre Dame aka Revenge for Gettysburg.
– Southern Blogger
Sorry I’ve been remiss in my postings as of late. I kind of picked up this bad habit lately called working. You see, when I first began this blog I was “under” employed. So I had plenty of time to cartoon and satire to my heart’s content. Now I’m nearing the sixth month anniversary of my new job and I’ve been quite busy receiving congratulatory calls, texts, and emails. Or rather, I’m just receiving a lot of calls, texts, and emails asking me to do stuff. The nerve right?
Nevertheless, my site stats have begun to climb on auto-pilot, being that this is now college football season. So, I had to give the people what they want. We all know that 75% of Southern culture is SEC football, 10% is the Civil War, 10% beauty pageants, and 5% bourbon. So SEC football it is to start the new season of blogging.
But then I had another problem; writer’s block. Haven’t I already blogged all my SEC stories? After all I’m one of the few Ole Miss alums who graduated in less than five years, so I don’t have but so many football stories. But then a friend reminded me that I often go on rants about how other schools, conferences, and game day experiences fail to live up to the SEC. And there you have it…perfect topic. And while some of my closer friends reading this will have heard these stories before, that’s true of about everything I’ve blogged about. At least this time there’ll be new cartoons.
And that was the other problem; Cartoonist’s block. You really can get out of practice with cartooning. But, once the first one was completed, the mental storyboard kicked in and this post took off. So without further ado, here’s my rant about how my other college football experiences have never lived up to my SEC ones.
For those of you new to this site, I didn’t grow up in SEC country. I’m a native of Virginia. So while my birthplace is not as football crazy as points south, it does make me 64% more likely to be president and 78% more likely to win a Civil War battle. That is to say, every Southern state is known for something. But the “southern” portion of my state is rapidly shrinking. Our universities seem like Big East schools (more on that later), and even the “in-state” kids can seem like they’re from out of state. And while I grew up safely entrenched along the south bank of the James River my region of the state is in the minority. So I fled to Mississippi.
You can read in several of my earlier posts how my time at Ole Miss shaped my identity. It especially shaped how I view the Saturday religion of SEC football. And like all things religious in the South, we tend to be evangelical, devout, and rather fundamentalist. Lukewarm college football gets spit out of our mouths. It was in the Bible I think… Bryant 14:5.
So fast forward a decade. I’ve been back in Virginia for awhile actually working in my major. For advancement in my field of work it became necessary to obtain a Master’s Degree. It made financial and professional sense to stay in state. In other words…it was free. And I wanted to get my degree as quick as possible. So I ended up at Virginia Tech.
Well that won’t be so bad right? That’s a football school. “You’re going to love it!” everyone tells me. Just wait until I see my first tailgate and game and it’ll be just like my SEC days…
Now don’t misunderstand me. I made some great friends at VA Tech. And indeed it has advanced me professionally as promised. The team was okay but…the football culture was rather lacking. Not their fault. They just don’t know no better.
I tried my friends. I really did try. I bought some Hokie paraphernalia and decided to give ACC football a shot. I even got season tickets and toned down my game day wardrobe a bit…you know the casual polo and khakis look of a successful land grant student.
Well when I entered my first tailgate I saw a shocking site. I believe I said something out loud to the effect of “well you can take the school out of the Big East but you can’t take the Big East out of the school”. Backwards caps, “alternate” Oregon style jerseys peddled by Nike, a sea of cargo shorts where there should be sundresses, and lots and lots of cornhole. Where I come from (collegiately speaking) the only time you should be watching cornhole is if you get sent to Parchman.
I guess I just never got used to the idea of tailgating on asphalt.
But then I realized It’s not really them, it’s me. See it began to dawn on me that the college football culture that I experienced as “normal” was actually very unusual, and that what I was witnessing in the parking lot was the norm for 95% of the country. So, I took that to heart, realized people were just having a good time supporting their school, and then I took a deep breath and decided they were all wrong!
But wait…I haven’t gotten to the game yet. The first game was against Marshall. I don’t remember much of it. I know they kept blaring a turkey call, and two dudes in front of me were “celebrating” with miniature shots of Wild Turkey from miniature airline bottles. And they were doing so in a way that I think is still illegal in Montgomery County, VA. But I wanted to give it a chance and I stayed until the bitter end of the 3rd quarter when the crowd did the Hokey Pokey. Then I left. The ACC was foreign.
I went back to two more games to at least see the in conference opponents. Maybe that would get better. The UNC game was better, I think because I got along with the UNC fans very well. Then there came the NC State game. That was a dilemma let me tell you. Ole Miss was not awful yet. In fact, that was a Cotton Bowl season for us. Yeah yeah, go ahead and laugh Bama fans, but to us, the Cotton Bowl is our version of the BCS championship…or at least as close as we’re going to get. I had a bet going with my LSU friend (and what does that tell you about the state of the ACC fan base that my best friend at grad school had gone to LSU?), and it was the CBS game of the week at 4 O’ clock.
Meanwhile in Blacksburg I had my ticket to the Wolfpack-Hokie matchup. I wore my Ole Miss t-shirt under my Virginia Tech fleece and headed to the stadium. Along the way I had a chance encounter with a fellow Ole Miss alum. We did the Hotty Toddy cheer and we’ve remained friends since. So one positive…
But still but the time the game starts in Hokie-land I swear the whole time I’m watching the scoreboard for the Rebel-Tiger score. I think they gave two updates. The first update it was announced as zero-zero. In the meantime I had to listen to Hipster Northern Virginia Hokie kids trash talking clueless computer geeky NC State kids. I wanted to plug my ears and sing the “Ballad of Archie Who” but it wasn’t going to work. There would still be an ACC game on the field and an ACC student section surrounding me. When the second score update was finally announced Ole Miss held a slight lead at halftime.
That was enough for me. Surely Ole Miss would blow this lead and I would lose my bet if I didn’t rush home to watch the game in person on TV. Now, normally I’d never leave a game at halftime. The 4th quarter is my earliest, and only if there is a blowout. But this was different. This was life and death. This was the SEC on CBS. I exited to the gates. The nice lady reminded me that I wouldn’t be allowed to re-enter. I replied “that’s okay; I’ve got a real game to see”. I quickly unzipped my maroon jacket, and proudly displayed the shirt emblazoned with the name of my true love and sprinted home.
And I made it in time to see the 4th quarter. Ole Miss barely held onto the game, but not before nearly tearing my heart out, causing me to shout obscenities that would make a sailor cover his ears, and make several bargains with my maker. And thanks to Les Miles not understanding the concept of time….we won. About a minute passed. The minute that Ole Miss fans expect the referee to reverse a call to cheat us (see whenever we play Alabama close), or for Vern Lunquist to yell “PSYCHE!!!!” But no, we really won! And I went outside the house, right when all the ACC faithful were walking and driving home from their mundane game that had mercifully ended, and I yelled, and jumped, and danced, and screamed, and yelled filled with the spirit of Johnny Vaught.
The next day I sold the rest of my tickets to fund a trip to Oxford, MS. Four games were worth the price of one. Even though the game I attended in Mississippi was a loss, and I was told upon my return that I missed an exciting beat down of Boston College, I really didn’t miss anything. They missed it.
As another LSU friend of mine says “a bad game in the SEC beats the best game anywhere else”. See, different denomination, but same religion.
But that’s just the ACC. What about a football powerhouse conference?
Lemme guess? The Big Ten?
Let me tell you about the Big Ten folks. Not the same. Nope. Been there, done that…twice even. That’s enough evidence.
The first time was when I went to a Penn State-Iowa game in 2003. Now, I always knew something was wrong with that school and in the end it was the cult like mentality of the place…
“Now wait a minute Southern Blogger” you’re saying….isn’t the SEC a cult? No, we are the true religion. See, we choose to be fans and students of our SEC schools and when they don’t live up to expectations someone pays. Like a bad minister we will send an inadequate coach packing as quickly as you can say Houston Nutt. And we boo our own teams. The girls boo too. Heck, they’re the meanest ones. Our school cheers are complex, and we also have the complexity to dress ourselves without the aid of the student body president. The “white out” nonsense, “we are Penn State” banal cheer, and inability to criticize team and coach when they gave up an easy game to an easy opponent was lame to say the least. But the worst of all was the pre-game announcement that “Beaver Stadium is a smoke free, alcohol-free environment, and we thank you for your cooperation.” No sarcastic cheers from the student section, no boos… (No booze?) and no middle fingers of youthful defiance. Just pre-approved cheers, school-approved signs, and school-sponsored team spirit. No thank you. Not impressed.
And then there was the famous time I infiltrated the University of Michigan. Now that was a lot more fun. Mainly because I decided to dress up in costume to infiltrate Midwestern football. I came as a Gerald Ford era Michigan Wolverine. In fact, I dare say my Midwestern costume was more Midwestern than the other Midwesterners. In true Globe Trekker fashion I went “native” and did what the locals did including: participating in a Climate Change Awareness Rally, spinning a post-modern Art cube, playing beer pong without beer (that was the oddest thing of all), learning their fight song, playing nerf football with strangers while making Heisman poses, and eating copious amounts of cheese fries with ranch dressing. Perfect infiltration. Except for one problem.
During my munching of the cheese-ranch fries at the bar, a friend of my friend, a hardcore Wolverine got into a conversation about the “overrated SEC”. The apostasy included rants about the “unfairness of playing bowl games in warm states, the easy non conference opponents the SEC faces, the quality of Big Ten NFL draft picks, media bias…yada yada”. And then, in full costume, in the middle of Ann Arbor, after all my successful infiltration…I blew my cover and went full on cheese fry to cheese fry Preston Brooks mode calling out Yankee lies. I couldn’t help myself.
By the end of the evening I was in a room of people who were watching the Minnesota Michigan State Iowa Purdue Indiana game. Or something like that. I couldn’t tell. What I could tell was these foreigners were watching a crappy game and cheering loudly when a real SEC game was on on CBS. It was awful, just awful. So I did what any good Southerner would do in the midst of a pagan ritual. I began preaching.
I began sharing about the promised land of Southern girls in pearls and sundresses, the smell of fried chicken, fall leaves and bourbon, the utter hatred you have for anyone else in the visiting student section, the rules of said combat, the battle scars, the joys, the defeats, the best damn football conference in the land. Amen and Amen.
In the end there’s only one school for me. You grad school can give you a nice resume and an extra diploma on the wall but it is not, nor can it ever be your alma mater.
I know which one mine is. Hell yes, damn right! You finish the rest…
NEXT TIME: I will show the Show-Me state how to properly behave in their new neighborhood. So long as we’re stuck with them. I’ll try not to be so late this time.
Welcome to this press conference. I’m here today to discuss my plans for this website for the upcoming year. As you may know, I recently got back from a strange fictitious trip to Michigan, and lived to post about it. Some of you were doubtless wondering what that was all about and why I failed to post about the LSU-Alabama National Championship game (for the 12th time this year).
Well today I will explain some of the things we’ll be doing on TSWBA, our upcoming posts, cartoons, and satires, and I’ll open the floor up to any questions or suggestions you may have. This will be an open forum and will in no way be an attempt by me to satire and lampoon my own website and audience. I wouldn’t dream of doing such a thing.
But first, I’d like to welcome all of you here today. I see some of my regular readers in the crowd, the sorority pageant girls, the frat boys who got here searching for politically incorrect pictures, the SEC trash talkers of which I see plenty of Alabama and LSU types, the disgruntled Colonel Reb supporters (I’m with you brothers and sisters), the classic country music fans, James Brown aficionados, Paula Dean supporters, Jim Bowie is the Chuck Norris meme spoofers, those linked to me via Facebook, transplanted Southerners pining for Dixie, protesters from the state of Michigan, and of course last but not least, the people who stumbled onto this site by accident.
Welcome all of you.
I started this site about six months ago as a way to blog, educate others about, and lampoon the culture of the South I love. I had very little prior blogging experience, but I had (literally) a notebook full of funny ideas and plenty of time on my hands. I thought up the name The South Will Blog Again!, purchased a WordPress domain name and a custom font, and launched in August. I had a lot of help from my friend the Budget Blonde, and some Facebook forwarding help from my friends Jaci, Chris, and Ray in particular. There were other forwarders out there along the way including other blogs and web sites. Many of those people I will never meet. But I thank you all.
Originally I was going to do a standard blog site, using hot linked pictures and adding a few paragraphs about them. But then I got to thinking. Lots of people do that. Those pictures wouldn’t be mine. And those pictures could disappear. Then I remembered how much I use to like to draw on MS Paint. Years ago when I first started my career as a museum educator I used to draw history cartoons on the computer for my children’s programs, worksheets, and fliers. It took a lot of practice, but it was fun, and quite popular. Then I stopped doing them for a while. This site gave me the chance to start drawing again, but on a variety of topics. If you look back to my first barbecue piece, it took a few weeks of trial and error to get the hang of it again and to make the images stand out. I’ve tried switching to better programs, but have kept Paint due to its ease of use and simple “cartoony” style images.
After deciding on that, I began to think about writing stories and long satires rather than simple short sentences and paragraphs. This kind of went against the grain of what most (non-political) websites do, but I had faith that my readers would be the sort that liked to hear a good yarn. The world moves too darn fast, and the internet is part of the reason. Why not use the internet to preserve some of our Southern culture by spinning tall tales and not taking life so seriously?
So after exhausting much of my early notebook of ideas as well as some requests and topical pieces, we are now averaging about 300-400 views per week. I thank you for that. Hopefully we can continue to grow. Before I tell you some of my ideas and plans for this year are there any questions? If you have a question please step up to the microphone and tell us your name and then state your peace..ah yes you sir, please go ahead.
“Yes…hi…my name is Bob Richie. Um…I’m what you call a bit of an entertainer/producer/artist…yeah…so are you finally done making fun of Michigan? That was kind of harsh man…I mean I’m not from up there or anything…I’m from down here…good ole Southern Rocker…but you know some of them are down with the South too! Seems like you’re trying to alienate them.”
Hmmm…well thanks for the suggestion Kid Rock. I’m sorry you were so offended by my Michigan piece. For those of you that were confused, I did in fact parody Michigan because of a bet I lost to a Wolverine grad. I had to praise Yankees, liberalism, Michigan culture, and the Big Ten for three days. It was a bit disturbing. So when that was over, I had been in a blogger’s block so I decided to turn that experience into a story. I had been holding onto a Wizard of Oz parody idea for some time and this seemed to fit perfectly. Any time Southern Blogger heads up to the North it’s like going into another dimension.
Now with that being said…the good news Kid Rock is that Michigan is off the hook. And no, Michigan didn’t really get it that bad because I kind of like Michigan people. If you want to see bad…well..
I might at a later point parody other Northern locales I’ve been too. I have a major ax to grind against the city of Boston, and neighboring Cambridge, based on a nine-day work trip I had there in 2006. That would certainly make good TSWBA fodder and will make the Michigan jokes seem quite tame. I also feel that the West Coast has gotten off too lightly. So Michigan…all’s well and all in good fun. We got rid of Michael Moore for you and I raise you a can of Vernor’s.
Oh…I’m also planning to use the concept of movie parodies again. Plenty of things could work such as the Lord of the Rings, the Godfather, Gone with the Wind, Gettysburg, or Braveheart…we’ll just have to see if the mood hits me. Those parodies and drawings take three times the work, so I wouldn’t expect another one for a while.
Next question….yes you ma’am…
“Hello my name is Kayleigh Ann Duprise, Miss South Will Blog Again 2012. And besides reading Southern blogs my passion is giving internet access to the hungry children of Togo. My sisters and I LOVE your blog…well we’ve only read one of the posts…but your pageant post was amazing! You should do more like that! And oh..oh! Fashion tips…like how to match your tiara with you Fall collection!”
Thanks for the advice and compliments Kayleigh, and for well improving my ratings. Um..well first of all I have to admit that the pageant post would not have been possible without my friend Budget Blonde who supplied me with the stories. There’s no way in the world I would have known about butt spray for example. Due to my lack of pageant experience and female anatomy I’m not sure how much more of those types of posts I could do…but I am up for allowing more guest blogging in the future. In fact until the SEC championship game knocked it off, that post was my most popular single day, and week, in this blog’s brief history. So I’m sure we can work something out you and your sisters, including your “sisters” in cyberspace, would like.
Oh speaking of the SEC…I see we have what appears to be an LSU fan in pimp attire…yes sir…
“Yes, hey man…my name is Bobby KR Rich…I’m a big fan…I’m also a huge fan of the pimpingest team in the universe the LSU Tigers! Are you going to do more SEC football posts? You don’t seem to have done enough of them. I search for cartoons bashing my rival schools all the time. We need all the cartoon help we can get if we are going to beat Bama this year. Oh..and are you going to call those Bama fans out for what they did to that LSU guy? You know, on Bourbon Street the other day? Isn’t that stereotypical!”
“THEY STARTED IT! THEY BE ALL JEALOUS AND STUFF OF ALL OUR CHAMPIONSHIP TROPHIES AND SUCH. I OUGHT TO POISON ALL OF THEM…WHY…THEY STARTED IT!!!”
Calm down Harvey Updyke! You’ll get your turn….(sigh)…
Look I know it’s you Kid Rock. I know you made a costume change five minutes ago, and now are embracing SEC football in order to seem more Southern, more country, and to branch off into hard rocking rap-Zydeco….(sigh)…and you and Harvey both please stop saying “we” you guys are tools, you fight too much, and you didn’t go to those schools.
If I’ve tried to do anything on my site, it’s to tell my own SEC stories and observations of other students and fans. I have never had problems as an Ole Miss grad getting along with students and alumni of any of the other schools. In fact I count many of them as close friends. We all share the same culture and stories. And we all share the same dismissive attitude towards Yankee football.
But nevertheless, I’m aware that my site traffic is due largely to SEC trash talk. If I lampoon LSU and Bama “sidewalk alums” the most, it’s because the “pimp fans” and “tree poisoner” types are the most obnoxious, most obvious, and easiest fans to bust on. If other teams start winning more their fans will become worse, and y’all will be off the hook.
While I’ll likely wait until late summer to do another SEC football post, I’ll probably do a post or two with some Ole Miss stories that should relate to graduates of any of those schools. I also plan to cover Southern minor league baseball culture this spring (think Bull Durham), and doubtless will NEED to bust on that Carpetbagger Duke basketball program. I’d also like to cover my take on the Masters, the Kentucky Derby, and other Southern sporting events.
Okay well besides what I’ve already mentioned I will tell you a few other plans I have…
If you don’t recall, I am a historian by training, education, profession, and well personal interest. I love history, I love satire, and I really love combining the two. So far I’ve done two history pieces, my Andrew Jackson tips on dueling “guest blog” and my Robert E Lee tips for winning a battle. As of yet, I haven’t done the 18th century. And that happens to be my favorite time period.
Since politics has been in the news lately, a lot of people like to argue over, harken to, and quote the Founding Fathers. Everybody (except far left loons and arch Tories) loves the Founders and I’m no exception. They were great. But I find it amusing that many people quote them as if they all agreed with one another, and all were of the same mind and background. I’ve studied these men and their writings for years. Many of them hated each other. Most of them were from upper class backgrounds. They also had strong regional differences. Well…albeit deliberately anachronistic, I thought it would be funny to re-imagine the Founders as Frat Boys. There’s a lot of talk online about the differences in fraternities in the North and South. This talk and these differences among today’s young and privileged seems a lot like the sniveling some of the Founders made against one another. So for my next blog piece I’m going to give the Fathers of our country the proper TSWBA treatment. It should be a good one.
So I hope I can make y’all laugh, and learn at the same time, without always having to come back to SEC football…
anything else? Yes…
“YEAH…OKAY SO WHEN YOU GONNA DO THAT POST ABOUT HOW LSU AND AUBURN HAVE DONE BEEN CHEATIN’?”
Well old times here are not forgotten and neither is this blog. I’ve been away for the past few weeks job searching, running errands, and getting ready for Christmas. I hadn’t had much time to properly cartoon and I figured y’all wouldn’t want to read an article sans cartoons. In any case, I’m sorry it took so long, but I think I might have come up with a good post here.
My last post, which was three weeks ago, was on Southern pageant culture. Our guest blogger, the Budget Blonde did an excellent job with her stories. We smashed the record for most hits in a day the day it was posted. It also generated a lot of discussion. It’s interesting to me that the most popular posts and search engine results for this blog have been for subjects such as beauty queens, football trash talking, and believe it or not Preston Brooks. Despite our other talents in music, cuisine, and literature, it means Southerners are very passionate about beauty and violence. If I were some Yankee I might act appalled and try to psycho-analyze this, but nah…that sounds about right to me.
Instead, I’ve decided to do a final college football post for the season. Now friends, this is not simply just a crass attempt to get more site hits, but rather my last chance to cartoon my favorite subject for the year. With all the bowl games on television, including such gems as the Maalox Bowl, and the Famous Kansas Whole Grain Wheat Bowl, I’m reminded of one thing…our people totally and utterly dominate the sport…that is when you get to the real games.
The rest of the country knows it too. See, I’ve been reading some college football message boards and sport news comments lately. Yankees, well many of them, are really mad that two Southern schools, in the same conference, in the same division, are playing for the national championship game (I guess they couldn’t find a patsy this year). And of course, with that, we have to get all the usual snide remarks and put downs about our people. Which of course brings out my inner Preston Brooks, and thus…
Well, rather than argue on the useless forum of message boards, I decided to retaliate the best way I know how. After all, the cartoon, is mightier than the message board. So without further ado I bring y’all and Inside look at why we love (and dominate) college football.
– Southern Blogger
In the Beginning…
It used to not be that way. Strange as it seems now, there was once a time when the South wasn’t very good at football. Football began as a northeastern sport, a blue-blood rugby-style game, that came out of the prep schools and colleges of the Northeast. Remember folks, the Ivy League was first a sports conference before it became an academic cachet. Consider how many teams copied the Bulldogs and Tigers names from Yale and Princeton. It was a rough and tumble sport for rich kids to prove their manhood, similar culturally to lacrosse today. Think of the schools that are good at lacrosse today, and you have the schools that dominated football 100 years ago.
Football, because of its speed and violence was an immediate hit. And it became popular in Dixie eventually as well. Yet the best coaches and players in the South came from north of the Mason-Dixon line. It was still a Yankee game. Even as the sport became more democratic and public schools and Catholic schools became dominant, the game’s elite teams were largely the teams that comprise the modern Big Ten.
Things started to change in the 1920s and 1930s. A new generation of Southern born players and coaches emerged. The Southeastern Conference was formed. Schools like Alabama went out west to the Rose Bowl and won. Georgia Tech and Duke (when it was a Southern school) became gridiron powerhouses. Southern players such as Don Hutson and Charley Trippi became household names. Throughout the Great Depression and leading up to World War Two, the South’s great college teams gave hope and voice to a beaten down people. Regional rivalries were put aside as Southerners united to cheer on Georgia, Auburn, or Alabama whenever they played Michigan, Nebraska, or Notre Dame. Southern pride put on pads and a leather helmet. Following World War Two the game became increasingly more Southern.
Passionate about the things we love…
Well that’s how this whole obsession began. And obsession is the word. If you have ever spent any time in the South, particularly the Deep South in the Fall, all of the talk is about college football, well regional college football. Preachers in Alabama will ask God to bless the Tigers or Crimson Tide (depending on their faith) at the end of services. Ladies at the beauty parlor (and we still call them beauty parlors) discuss the merits of Mississippi State’s latest recruiting class or Georgia’s running game. A neighborhood kid getting recruited to Florida is more important than being elected president.
And when you come down for a visit, you better be prepared to talk shop. My college roommate at Ole Miss remarked about how he once tried to bring up a non-SEC school at the barber shop. The barbers were talking about high school teams, then Ole Miss, then the other conference teams when he brought up Michigan State (where his father went to school). Michigan State of the Big Ten…”the Big What son?” was the reply.
Point being, we don’t really care so much about other schools and conferences. Doubtless you’d have to be a real ignoramus not to acknowledge the traditions and talents of say USC , Nebraska, or Ohio State. I’m sure those gentlemen knew of those programs. Only down there there is an attitude of “we don’t care how you do it up North”. I think with older generations especially, it comes from a time when the rest of the country put the South down, even in things like football. For decades the national title votes, Heisman votes, and marquee bowl games went to Midwestern and West Coast schools, at the expense of good Southern teams, which makes it all the more ironic when those folks up there complain about SEC dominance today.
We also stick together. During bowl season, and even at times during non-conference regular games, you will hear a chant from students and fans of SEC teams. Much like the Olympic “U-S-A, U-S-A” chant, you will hear an “S-E-C, S-E-C” chant at the end of a game the conference wins. And back at home we are all chanting this whatever our school affiliation. As an Ole Miss grad, I may hate LSU and Mississippi State, but I darn sure will cheer for them against anyone else. Conference pride, regional pride matters. We are all from the same family, even if some of the schools are our “misguided cousins”. Blood is thicker than alma mater. To my knowledge other conferences just don’t do that. Would an Ohio State grad root for Michigan? Does USC pull for UCLA in their game? Not really. “Big-Ten, Big-Ten” is not a chant. It’s not even the right number of schools. And I thought they were supposed to be better at math than us.
It’s all about family…
In the South our college teams are beloved members of our extended family. They are in our thoughts and prayers always, and we support them win or lose. We are even quite irrational in defense of them. Our college teams and our alma maters are things that our passed down from generation to generation. That same sharecropping family in Alabama that listened to Dixie Howell lead the Crimson Tide to victory in 1935 might later have sent two generations of students to the University. Like our football programs, our schools and our region have improved dramatically over the past few decades. No longer a rural poor backwater, the South now boasts top universities, economic and population growth, cultured urban centers, and our share of success stories off the field.
The South has risen again. It hasn’t risen again in secession or Civil War, but rather risen from defeat and Depression to become a powerful and integral part of the United States culturally, politically, and economically. We’ve come a long way as a people, yet in our football pride and power, we still assert the things that made us who we were and are…our sense of military prowess and pride. We get hit, and hit ’em back harder and rise gain.
We will join the rest of you come Olympics time and say “U-S-A, U-S-A” but right now it’s bowl season…
– Southern Blogger
As I’ve mentioned before I learned a lot of things from my time at Ole Miss. Besides bourbon smuggling, bow tie wearing, frat tabbing, mud riding, bottle throwing, fight song singing, and hob knobbing, I learned the art of procrastination.
Yep, it’s Tuesday night going on Wednesday as I’m writing this. Two days late. My excuse(s)? Well I was out of power, then restored to power, then had to help someone move (esp. since he’s the reason I got to post last week), then indoctrinated my nephew for his birthday by taking him to a baseball game and converting him to SEC football, and then there were all the games on TV…and…and…
Well, I’ve finally finished my cartoons and am ready to bring you my third and final installment of the “Guide to the SEC” Trilogy (although there may be prequels at a later date). In this issue, which I dedicate to fans, students, and alums of the other 11 SEC schools, I will tell of the things I’ve learned from watching, arguing over, and fighting in, games with y’all. While we may have been on opposite sides of that “war” we call Saturday football, we as fellow warriors share some of the same stories and observations. Such as…
(Click any Picture to Enlarge and Read Text)
Down Here Some Folks Take Football Seriously, Very, Very Seriously!
The first SEC game I ever attended was in the Fall of 1996. After spending my first two Ole Miss games watching cakewalk opponents (yes Ole Miss once took care of those easily) I was a tad overconfident in my school’s ability to defeat any foe. And then came Tennessee. It was going to be a home game…but the home game was played in “neutral” Memphis (much closer to Oxford, MS than Knoxville) and you know we had that “home field advantage”.
Well folks, I learned quickly that when you step two yards into the state of Tennessee, you are in Vols Country. And by Vols Country I mean folks decked out in orange so bright it makes your eyes bleed. I also realized that a school on probation, with walk on players, which Ole Miss had to deal with due to certain infractions, was no match for a Peyton Manning Tennessee squad. Yep, that Peyton Manning.
I should tell you before that date I used to like the color orange and the song “Rocky Top”. In fact Rocky Top is quite stirring the first time you hear it played by their band. But they play it after every first down, 3 yard run, kick return, timeout, fumbled snap, punt, TV timeout, and so forth and so on. After a 48-3 drubbing I can still see Peyton’s throws and hear that dang song in my nightmares.
Yes folks they take their fight song and blaze orange very seriously. And it gets worse when you head into Neyland Stadium which I finally managed to do last year. I was a little blueberry in a bowl of oranges. Ole Miss stunk the place up and I heard Rocky Top a lot.
Yet every team in the SEC has their traditions they take seriously. My own school in fact used to before the current administration came to power.
Take for example the University of Georgia. Those Georgia folks are quite fond of a canine called UGA. “Uga” is bulldog royalty. I think they might be on their 10th one now. His dog house is larger than the school president’s and possibly Hershel Walker’s. Students must clear the path lest he be forced to move his paws and exert himself too much. I believe he even has graduate assistants who must taste his food lest any Harvey Updyke type have any nefarious ideas. And to all of us in this conference this is quite understandable. Especially fear of crazed “Bama” fans.
Speaking of…of all the crazies in the SEC they do crazy 100 x worse in Tuscaloosa. Winning 7 or 14, or 106 national championships (depending on who you ask) brings you a lot of fans. The drunkenness that comes from winning is far more potent than any smuggled 4th quarter bourbon.
My first live experience with the “Bama-Waggoners” came during my sophomore season (yeah I said season). By then, I had a few games under my belt and understood the tailgating culture, and what to expect from visiting fans as far as parking, partying, trash talking etc. At least I thought I did. Most visiting fans would arrive on Friday before a Saturday game. We knew as students that our own administration would sell us out and our commuter parking in order to cash in from the visiting RVs. That was fine by us since it gave us a legitimate excuse to skip class (esp. since we were already planning to do). The Bama fans came in quite early, as in Tuesday night, Wednesday morning early. They took over our entire campus with fleets of RVs. I had to walk an extra 30 minutes to get to class and was late a few times.
So folks, by my account I had every right then to spend the next couple of nights making noise in the Bama RV park, esp. at 3 AM, and pilfering annoying RV magnets. Yes I admit it, but remember, there’s also a statute of limitations! And yes they beat us, beat us bad, with Shaun Alexander, and I got even madder. My roommate and I had quite the collection on our fridge.
(you should definitely click on this picture)
Football Brings Out my Inner Jerk
As you can already tell, college football brings out the inner jerk in your normally mild mannered and polite Southern Blogger. As I became more adept at SEC culture and had attended a few years of games I became more familiar with our opponents. I would research them weeks before the game. By research I mean learn all the gossip, scandals, and funny player names to use against them. I also had my standby taunts.
For example, it always annoyed me that we could never beat Auburn. At the time we were at the same level as them. Same type of team, same personnel, same type of fans, same record, they even had our former coach. And yet, we’d lose to yet another school from the state of Alabama, and I’d be pretty ticked. So when I exited the stadium to their trash talk and to their plethora of pom-poms (no one loves pom-poms quite like Auburn) I would throw back the only thing I had left, a cheap yet effective shot. I’d yell “Roll Tide”. It never failed to bring out scowls and epithets.
But Auburn was mild in comparison to my utter contempt for LSU. Man oh man, was LSU my favorite game. I’m talking a real rivalry, one in which you had a real chance of being arrested or put into a coma. Their fans and students would drive up from “Red Stick” pretty early in the week. I could tell many of them would be out looking for a fight. They’d go into stores and restaurants in Oxford ready to start trouble. And trouble would ensue to be sure.
During games in those days, as mentioned before, our student sections were near each other. I’d see dozens of people getting carted off to jail on both sides, and hundreds of bottles and cups whizzing through the air. I even got hit by friendly fire.
And they were obnoxious! (Well so were we ha ha) Once after a touchdown one of their students stole Colonel Reb’s cane (10 years before he became our chancellor) and was dancing profanely with it. For the first and only time in my life I rooted for Cobra Security and police brutality. One of our guards who looked like he used to play football, leapt into the crowd, threw a few punches and the cane was retrieved. Anyway we won some and lost some, but I hand it to the LSU faithful…they were the most fun to hate on. Which reminds me that…
No Matter What, Some Folks Will Just Plain Hate You!
Yes, by hate I mean Mississippi State. State has a complex. They are the “people’s” college, the land grant school that represents all of Mississippi…or at least Mississippi’s cattle industry. And they emphasize this point with their enthusiasm for the cow bell. Cow bells were illegal, but so was bourbon and that always got by the geniuses at Cobra. They’d ring them and clang them, and belt mono-syllabic (that means one-word for those of you from State) insults and cheers.
Man they were annoying! To get to the game you had to run a gauntlet of their sidewalk alums decked in camo and mud. They’d shout stupid nonsense about “Winning the fight” on the field a year ago (they didn’t) and how they were real Mississippi and not into “book learning”. So they were the “anti-college” that represented the parts of the state that don’t get in the travel brochures.
I hated them and everything they stood for. I’d go hoarse making fun of them and quoting from the movies Deliverance and Sling Blade quite liberally. In fact, during my senior year, during an imitation that lasted the whole game, I once had Billy Bob Thornton’s Sling Blade Character “Carl”, apply, graduate, attend graduate school, and become a professor at Mississippi State. Our folks laughed, theirs didn’t get it.
Ughh…State….anyway in my last game as a student me made a 20 point 4th quarter comeback. That was a fond memory.
For the record I used the same material for Arkansas, esp. after watching in shock as their fans did a call the hogs “Sooey” cheer. Pretty scary stuff. I just emphasized the “Squeal like a pig” Deliverance lines a little more.
Those fans sure were annoying, but that wasn’t half as bad as being “too nice”.
Some Folks Just Don’t Belong…
…in the SEC that is. You come to expect a certain amount of mutual “hate” during games. In fact I thrived on it and looked forward to it. It’s the reason I’ve always found Big Ten and ACC games disappointing. They missed that combat factor.
So I was in for a real shock when I attended my first game at Vanderbilt. Vandy was an ideal locale for a good road trip. Nashville was 5 hours from Oxford, I like classic country music, Vanderbilt was an easy win (back then), and tickets were easy to come by. Real easy.
Nobody went to Vanderbilt games to root for Vanderbilt. Even the city kids they gave thousands of free tickets to. So that was weird, as was fact that the tickets had children’s cartoons on them rather than former players or coaches etc. Even weirder was the first Vandy students I saw while walking up to the game were not tailgaters but “artsy types” in all-black having a street theatre performance. But even that wasn’t the weirdest.
No friends, the oddest thing was the pre-game ceremony. Their band marched over to our section as their P.A. Announcer welcomed us to the game as “guests”. Then they played our school’s fight song. Man, I had NO RESPECT for that. LSU and State would never stoop so low. So after we pummeled them it didn’t feel as fun.
Thankfully a recent return to Vanderbilt showed me some changes. They have more fans, they have SOME students that are like the rest of us, drunk, profane, and into football, and they stopped sucking up to their visitors.
Still there are just some things that shouldn’t be in the SEC. Like the fact that Florida could win championships with a guy who cried and was too touchy feely. Or how Kentucky actually pays their basketball coach more than the football coach (that’s weirder than Vandy caring about academics). But the most un-SEC team to me is South Carolina. Whenever I see them in person or on TV they rub me the wrong way. See, the state of South Carolina is as Southern as it gets. I love Charleston, devour shrimp and grits, agree that Carolina girls are among the best in the world, and can rock out to some Wilson Pickett. So it’s beyond weird that the state that brought us Vanna White and Preston Brooks has a flagship school that raves to techno at the start of the 4th quarter. Their “traditions” seem very recent, very school-sponsored and very Kansas State like. I see lots of gel hair, tight t-shirts, official school sponsored (as in safe and PC) gear, and hear electronic music, choreographed cheering, and a general lack of SEC trash talk.
I don’t know….they’ve only been around us for 20 years. It takes at least 50 to build up a decent rivalry or worthy fight song. Still, if I had my druthers we’d trade them to the ACC for Clemson. At least Clemson gets football culture.
Well folks, I’ve prattled long enough about my thoughts on the SEC. Know this, despite it all; I admire the students, alums, and fans of the other schools. Since my gradation from Hotty Toddy U. I can count LSU, Georgia, and Auburn alums amongst my closest friends, talk football every Sunday with my Tennessee Vol loving pastor, had pleasant visits recently to UT, UK, and Vandy, have had friendly run-ins with State grads, and always pay attention when a certain Florida alum is reporting from the sidelines. So despite it all, while I don’t quite count them as brothers and sisters, the other schools’ folks are at least misguided cousins. But hey, that makes us all family.
And whoever’s playing come bowl season, you’ll hear me chant “S-E-C, S-E-C, S-E-C”.
– Southern Blogger
Next Week, hopefully on time, I will begin a new series with So You Wanna Write…a Country Song.